WOMEN ROCK

WOMEN ROCK.

Thanks for being here and welcome to Women Rock – a voice for diversity in tech! Here you will find some of the most inspirational stories about ED&I in the tech industry. Women Rock was created by SR2 co-founder and all-round positive vibe advocate Alicia and exists to help transform the industry and create a positive movement!

 #THISLITTLEGIRLISME – Amie Gara
WOMEN ROCK2021-10-18

#THISLITTLEGIRLISME – Amie Gara

She was born and raised in Bristol with her father, mother, and older sister. She had a wonderful upbringing with her father being an Inspector in the Police Force and mother working around fathers shifts in the hospital. She never wanted for anything and was privileged to have a lovely childhood.She made friends at school easily and was bubbly and outgoing. Teachers said she talked too much 😊She wasn’t the most academic but tried her best and took extra tuition from her teacher in Maths. This was the subject she wanted to improve.She was very athletic and took up Irish dancing from the age of 4 – 16 she had a great career gaining multiple titles with her team at the world championships & got to travel the world.At 16 her working life started in retail at 48 hours a week – long days, working weekends and bank holidays.At 25 she decided enough was enough. Retail life isn’t for her and went back to college to study AAT. Got a part time job at a small family run business as their financial controller and never looked back. That company sadly went into liquidation, so she embarked on the start of her finance career in recruitment.She desperately wanted a family of her own, 3 years of trying followed, doctor appointments, 2 miscarriages 👼👼.Being diagnosed with polycystic ovaries and chances to conceive very slim, she came to terms with adopting.At the age of 30 she had a little bit of a melt down that she hadn’t started a family 👨‍👩‍👦2018 Her miracle boy was born completely naturally! 👶 This little girl learnt that sometimes great things happen when you relax.2018 her dad took a turn for the worst with his health and it seemed that he had a stroke and everyone was very worried that we could lose him – turned out to be sepsis and he was extremely ill.Her father has thankfully recovered.2018 affected her in a big way – she was diagnosed with post-natal depression. The once bubbly outgoing girl now struggled with anxiety, not feeling good enough and struggled with her own emotions.Mental health still affects her 3 years on.People asked her:“when she will have another baby? – before she gets too old!”“Ohhh won’t your son be lonely”“You are a part time mum as you work full time”“You can’t have a good career with flexibility of being a mother”2021 After being made redundant (without a redundancy package) earlier this year, things looked like they would take a downward spiral. I knew a lot of people were losing their jobs due to the Corona Virus pandemic.How wrong ‘this little girl’ was…She is now the Finance Manager of a very successful recruitment agency SR2 | Socially Responsible Recruitment | Certified B Corporation™ which has phenomenal growth and goals for next year alone.People say things happen for a reason and she certainly does believe this.This little girl is:A working motherA career womanA warriorA survivorA Never give up-er#Thislittlegirlisme WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?Because 70% of girls feel more confident about their futures after hearing from women role models. I’m happy to be part of the #thislittlegirlisme campaign for female empowerment initiated by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez of Inspiring Girls International to mark International Day of the Girl 2021.A VOICE FOR DIVERSITY IN TECH & ENGINEERING ❤️I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 #THISLITTLEGIRLISME – CHARLOTTE BAKER
WOMEN ROCK2021-10-18

#THISLITTLEGIRLISME – CHARLOTTE BAKER

This little girl is me.She was from a little seaside town in the South and had a privileged upbringing. She had a father who was a lawyer and a mother who retired at an early age to look after her and her big sister.Life was good. She was put into an all-girls private school at the age of 8. Her teachers would say “if she put her mind to it, she would do well”. She was the captain of the netball team and has lots of friends. She was labeled as independent and never wanted for much. She started working at 16 and loved having her freedom.Then everything changed.She was 16 when her father was taken to hospital for a problem with his hand. 3 weeks later, he had a tracheotomy and was put on life support for reasons we still don’t understand or know.She’d lost her father, the breadwinner, the glue that held their family together. He’d left her mother in debt she didn’t know about. Her mother was struggling mentally and financially but she didn’t know how to help.After that, she found everything hard to understand. She was lost. She lived with her boss and ran away from her problems.She soon realised if she wanted to succeed in life it was only up to her. She moved to Bristol on her own and decided to pursue a career in recruitment. It was a tricky start but the founders ofSR2 | Socially Responsible Recruitment | Certified B Corporation™ saw something in her. She’s now a Senior, and working for an organisation that is changing the industry. She couldn’t be more proud.These experiences have fuelled her to work hard, be a good human and live life to the fullest.<#Thislittlegirlisme WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?Because 70% of girls feel more confident about their futures after hearing from women role models. I’m happy to be part of the #thislittlegirlisme campaign for female empowerment initiated by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez of Inspiring Girls International to mark International Day of the Girl 2021.A VOICE FOR DIVERSITY IN TECH & ENGINEERING ❤️I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 Any subject. Any content. No barriers.
WOMEN ROCK2021-09-22

Any subject. Any content. No barriers.

As an addition to our Women Rock platform, and as a socially responsible business, one of our focuses this year is to break down stigmas and to be more open and honest, so we asked our wonderful team to share stories of times in their lives where they have been ‘Rocked’.Any subject. Any content. No barriers.Every month we will post a feature in the hope to reach out to others in similar or challenging situations to let them know that they are not alone, we all have difficulties in our lives and our stories will tell you how we dealt with and overcame them or simply learned to live with them.We all struggle. We all hurt. You are not alone.WHAT’S ROCKED YOU?Moving to England with my mum still living in South Africa rocked me! I lived with my Mum, as well as Stepdad and little brother up until I was 18. I then took an opportunity and moved to England when I was 18 years old. Although I do not regret the decision, as a young adult I didn’t take into account the fact that I would be leaving my mother and family on the other side of the world!HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH IT?I visit my family there when I can. This is also a good reason to travel to sunny South Africa! I also speak to my mum now on a regular basis, even if this is just a phone call whilst I am working home from work.WHAT DID YOU LEARN?When I lived with my Mum growing up I took her for granted. I think back to the pointless squabbles we had as any mum and teenager would and can’t believe it now. Whenever I see my mum now I cherish the time with her, and see her as a best friend and a mum, telling her everything and hiding no secrets!WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHERS IN A SIMILAR SITUATION?Don’t take your relationship with your family for granted and stay in touch however possible.A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 “THE SELF IS NOT SOMETHING ONE FINDS, IT IS SOMETHING ONE CREATES” – AN INTERVIEW WITH OANA, AKVILE, MARIA AND IRBE AT JETSTACK
WOMEN ROCK2021-09-17

“THE SELF IS NOT SOMETHING ONE FINDS, IT IS SOMETHING ONE CREATES” – AN INTERVIEW WITH OANA, AKVILE, MARIA AND IRBE AT JETSTACK

Steve Dalley recently spoke with some of the incredible team at Jetstack, a Cloud Native technology services company, to chat about their beginnings, struggles and successes. Oana Garnett, Akvile Marciukaityte, Maria R and Irbe Krumina all had very inspiring, and insightful stories and ideas when it came to increasing diversity in technology.It was also incredibly interesting to hear how they all got into the wonderful world of IT, proving that there is no right or wrong way to go about securing a career in our industry.This is certainly worth a read/watch and we’re sure it will inspire others to pursue a career in tech or make that professional jump to enhance their current career!Thank you Oana, Akvile, Maria and Irbe for your time and sharing your thoughts and strories with us ?.TELL US ABOUT YOUR JETSTACK JOURNEY SO FAR?Akvile – I joined Jetstack just under 2 years ago as a Scrum Master then transitioned into the Culture and Operation Lead overseeing employee experience from the moment a new Jetstacker joins us to the moment they leave.Maria – I joined Jetstack just over 18 months ago and work directly on various Kubernetes projects.Oana – I joined Jetstack just over 3 years ago starting out as Head of Support, in charge of shaping our Kubernetes subscription offering. As of October 2020, I have become Head of Service taking over all of our customer delivery team, working towards improving our customer services, operational performance and our ability to scale as Jetstack grows.Irbe – I joined Jetstack around 6 months ago and work on our opensource projects as a Software Engineer.HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE WORLD OF IT AND TECHNOLOGY?Oana – I actually got into IT purely by accident. Having done Politics at University I was looking at doing an internship at NATO which I unfortunately didn’t get. A friend of mine mentioned they had a role at Rackspace which was an introduction into IT and thought I would give it a go. To be honest, I had no idea what it was about originally but once I got there, I loved it. I first started in service delivery and then moved my way into tech management.Akvile – Mine too was a bit accidental. I started a consulting program with a focus on IT and completed various projects. I ended up getting into Agile and Scrum and I just loved the environment and the openness of the environment. I ended up working my way up and now currently at Jetstack.DO YOU THINK DEGREES ARE ESSENTIAL OR EVEN HELP YOU GET INTO IT?Maria – I think Oana is a good example to prove you don’t really need a specific degree to get into IT. I know a number of people who are brilliant and don’t have specific IT related degrees. I think you are able to take a course in a specific subject and rom there you can start to learn and practice to develop further. Personally, I don’t think you need a degree. Universities help develop skills and start people off but the main learnings happen from experiences.Irbe – IT was a big career change having done Arts previously. I don’t think it’s necessary to study and IT degree to get into the industry but I do think it is good to study as it gives you a lot of transferable skills and allows you to develop you work and communication, for example.What do you think that can be done to attract and more diverse demographic into tech?Irbe – I think companies that get involved with inclusion events, as well as diversity outreach programs and accepting students are good ways to attract a more diverse pool of individuals.Akvile – I think it is important to understand the ecosystem you are in the communities you need to tap into. I have been working closely with our third party agencies for instance to understand those smaller, less known communities and how can we leverage platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn to rely on our own networks a little more. One of the main strategies we have is to be a bit more open and how we hire new talent and how we talk about ourselves in forums and how are founders represent the company on podcasts or articles. I really feel like it’s having that mix of small actions that we can take as a collective that can impact this the most. It’s all about coming up with those strategies together and coming up with how each person can influence how we become more diverse as a company.WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED DURING YOUR CAREER?Oana – Avoiding Labels. Throughout my career, I have been keen to not be labelled as a woman in technology. When I first moved into tech management at Rackspace, someone came up to me to congratulate me and said “It’s great to have more women in management”. At that point, I realised that I have potentially been picked to tick off that diversity box. After this I was keen to avoid stereotypes and for me to get appreciated and recognised for my work without my gender playing a apart of this. Overall though, I have been very lucky to work with very good companies and teams where I haven’t felt discriminated and have avoided companies that I felt like that was a possibility.Irbe – I completely agree with Oana on that. I think labels is a big thing to avoid but similarly, have been very lucky with the companies and teams I have worked in along the way. When you join a company, I think it is important that you are seen as an engineer, for example, they have a place for you and can see the potential for your growth and not just hitting specific diversity metrics.WHAT ARE YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY?Akvile – One of my proudest professional achievements is actually currently at Jetstack and while building the culture, we were recognised by the Great Place to Work and making sure the work we have done together continues. I would also say not being afraid to learn and throw yourself into new things and being curious.Maria – When I first moved to London, I thought it would be hard to find a job due to the language barrier and my experience. I feel like I have been presented a lot of opportunities and especially at Jetstack, I have learnt a lot.Oana – Moving into tech management was one of the scariest things in have done but now, I love it and really happy that I took the plunge and also management to overcome the imposter syndrome you feel when you change role. Personally, very similar to Maria, building a life in another country has a lot of challenges. I originally came to London for University and being very naive at the time, it has been nice to build that life that I am really proud of.Irbe – I don’t have one single achievement necessarily. However, when I moved to Jetstack, I did change my tech stack slightly which has given me a lot of satisfaction being able to do it and transfer some of my previous skills which I feel has given me a wider perspective of the whole technology landscape.WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPIEST IN YOUR FREE TIME?Irbe – I do code in my free time but I would say I am happiest when I am outside in nature, hiking and enjoying the outdoorsAkvile – Similar to Irbe, I love spending time in nature, I enjoy running, art, architecture, wondering around new places, taking pictures and reading.Maria – I love to listen to music, play tennis and swim but particularly I enjoy cooking. I am big foodie.Oana – Similar to Maria, I am a big foodie and really enjoy cooking. I also like going to new restaurants and trying new things as well as travelling, which hasn’t happened for quite a while now. Luckily, I managed to do quite a bit before lockdown and Covid so I’m hoping to resume when I can.IN ONE SENTENCE, HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP YOUR CAREER SO FAR?Oana – Unexpected, challenging, but incredibly rewarding to work with people and see people grow the potential in peopleIrbe – Interesting journey, fast but also very expected and rewarding along the way.Akvile – A lot of change trying different things, fast paced and feeling comfortable with ambiguity.Maria – Challenging, enjoyable but rewarding.WHAT ONE BIT OF ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE STARTING OFF IN TECH?Akvile – Don’t be afraid to gain experience at different companies. I think it’s good to get a good mix of small and larger companies and exposing yourself to different environments to find out where you work best. Don’t be put off my lesser-known names and just go for the big brands and names.Maria – Trust yourself. I you feel like you can do it, you can and don’t be afraid of anything.Oana – Don’t get hung up on labels or being a woman in tech. You want to make the most out of doing your job so don’t get discouraged by that in any way. Another big thing is find people to learn from, whether it be colleagues, friends, managers, whoever it might be, ask for advice and grow.Irbe – Find something that is interesting for you. There is a wide range of jobs in tech and you have an opportunity to find something that really motivates you and when you do, just got for it.FAVOURITE QUOTE?Oana – “’People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates”, by Thomas SzaszAkvile – “People support what they create”An interview by Steve DalleyA voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 Any subject. Any content. No barriers.
WOMEN ROCK2021-08-24

Any subject. Any content. No barriers.

As an addition to our Women Rock platform, and as a socially responsible business, one of our focuses this year is to break down stigmas and to be more open and honest, so we asked our wonderful team to share stories of times in their lives where they have been ‘Rocked’.Any subject. Any content. No barriers.Every month we will post a story in the hope to reach out to others in similar or challenging situations to let them know that they are not alone, we all have difficulties in our lives and our stories will tell you how we dealt with and overcame them or simply learned to live with them.We all struggle. We all hurt. You are not alone. WHAT’S ROCKED YOU?This may be cringey and super blatant, but also relevant for so many. The craziest thing that’s happened to me, possibly in my life, has been covid; starting a new job and then lockdown straight away, seeing friends less, breaking up with my partner of 5+ years and generally changing my whole way of living.HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH IT?There were lots of ways which helped through this. I was probably one of few people who managed to cut down drinking a lot and got around 5-10 workouts a week done, this really helped me in the initial stages of lockdown. I was also fortunate enough to have a very amicable breakup which, although it wasn’t great, it could’ve been much worse and I had supportive friends around me to help. (for the record I gave up on that healthy lifestyle and I’m back to playing squash 2/3 times per week) but still very much doing my bit to keep pubs alive across Bristol.WHAT DID YOU LEARN?It’s good to take a step back sometimes and analyse a situation before jumping into either drinking too much or other destructive behaviour. Covid was/is no one’s fault (although there is controversy around that subject) so you need to try your very best to adapt to situations as best you can and to learn from them. If you have the right mindset you can find positives in any negative situation.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHERS IN A SIMILAR SITUATION?Speak to friends/ family about your feelings on certain topics. I know it can be the hardest thing to do sometimes but being open is great and although ‘people’ get a bad reputation sometimes, there are loads of people out there who love to help and spread joy in the world. Lean on those people ❤ A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 Any subject. Any content. No barriers.
WOMEN ROCK2021-07-27

Any subject. Any content. No barriers.

As an addition to our Women Rock platform, and as a socially responsible business, one of our focuses this year is to break down stigmas and to be more open and honest, so we asked our wonderful team to share stories of times in their lives where they have been ‘Rocked’.Any subject. Any content. No barriers.Every month we will post a story in the hope to reach out to others in similar or challenging situations to let them know that they are not alone, we all have difficulties in our lives and our stories will tell you how we dealt with and overcame them or simply learned to live with them.We all struggle. We all hurt. You are not alone. WHAT’S ROCKED YOU?From the age of about 6 till I was 14 my mum was very poorly with bowel cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. I had 4 older brothers, a dad who was at uni in London 4 days a week and my mum was primarily in hospitals which meant a lot of the time I spent with her growing up was in hospital.HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH IT?I was lucky enough that my mum was never a quitter! Regardless of her health she always stayed incredibly positive and confident she would get better and get home. This resonated with my brothers and myself massively and at times it was almost like we knew she would get better. I also had two teachers at primary school who were also wonder women for helping me to process emotions, understanding why I used to get so angry and upset and why I could be so disruptive and dealing with this behaviour in a supportive way. My brothers also played a huge role in looking after me when my dad was away, and mum was in hospital which I will always be grateful for!WHAT DID YOU LEARN?It sounds weird but in a way, I learned life isn’t easy. I also learned that life isn’t easy for everyone and that every single person wakes up with their own problems and their own stresses. It taught me to be grateful for all the good things I have in my life and to never focus on the negatives because that will only ever get you down! If you tackle a day by saying I will stop and recognise all the good things that happen to me today and not dwell on the bad things I have no control over, eventually you will find yourself going through every day in the most positive mindset possible. If in life you feel unlucky and hard done by you will spend every day only recognising those things you associate with your luck but if you force positive thoughts the power of the mind will surprise you.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE PEOPLE IN SIMILAR SITUATIONS?I would say the best advice is to exude positivity at every turn and appreciate where you are lucky in life. I was very bad for feeling like all these things were only happening to me and I was completely alone in it all amongst my friends until I met someone who is one of my closest friends to this day. The friend I am talking abouts’ mum was also ill with bowel cancer at the same time as my mum but unfortunately wasn’t so lucky to win her fight. Over the years I have learnt that you are never alone, there is always someone out there who is going through more and you can either feel like the world is against you and be negative in life or you can appreciate all the good around you and believe in better days! If you believe they will come, they will ? A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 Pride Month – Building An Inclusive Workplace
WOMEN ROCK2021-06-29

Pride Month – Building An Inclusive Workplace

As part of pride month we look back at some of our favourite Women Rock interviews and share the thoughts and advice from the incredible the ED&I entrepreneurs, founders and advocates that we have had the pleasure of meeting in our journey so far.Here’s what they have to say about what ED&I means to them, tips on how to build an inclusive workplace and why diversity is so important!❤️???????? ERIOL FOXhttps://sr2rec.co.uk/non-binaryrock/Turns out there are a whole lot of us non-binary folk and trans-gender folk in tech and we really need a platform to help cis-gendered people understand how to interact with us (hint: like you would any other person, with respect and kindness) just don’t ask us what genitals we have or who we’re attracted to and we’ll get along fine.Blind CV’s and hiring people for diversity of thought and experience are the way forward.Let’s remove the name, education & the origin and focus on the life experience, dedication and attitude that people can bring to the table!BRUCE HUGHEShttps://sr2rec.co.uk/bruce/Accountability: you need it. Someone or something has to be accountable for the goals, and there needs to be a clear and transparent plan for reaching them. We came up with some definitions for diversity and inclusion, made sure that everyone was onboard with the reasons it’s important and understood that D&I benefits everyone, and then we built the roadmap together.FRANCES BURTONhttps://sr2rec.co.uk/francesjisc/We’re taking steps to cast our net more widely to attract talent from the widest possible pool. That means, for example, placing job ads in different media, wording them differently and being less prescriptive about the skills we’re looking for. Technical skills can always be taught to promising candidates who have aptitude and a range of other useful skills that transfer into this environment. Their different perspectives may well give us fresh ways of looking at problems.SIMONE BARTLEYhttps://sr2rec.co.uk/jisc/Diversity is not about quotas, it is exciting. Gaining true representation creates more rounded, innovative, dynamic and impactful products, actions and solutions. That benefits everyone.PAUL FORSTERhttps://sr2rec.co.uk/paulforster/The most challenging part of any EDI work is patience. It’s not necessarily challenging to bring people round to understanding why more inclusive teams good business sense are, however it’s a continuous long term process and nothing happens overnight.LISA MATTHEWShttps://sr2rec.co.uk/lisamatthews/We need to fix the inherent structural reasons that make the landscape of opportunity disproportionately favourable or difficult to one gender or another. We need to fix decision making. We need to fix bias, conscious or otherwise, in systems and processes. And for me this comes down to better diversity right from the top down.LEESA KINGMANhttps://sr2rec.co.uk/leesa/If companies understand that D&I has a positive impact on the bottom line rather than it just being a tick box exercise. Diverse teams come up with the best solutions.SUSAN BARNEhttps://sr2rec.co.uk/susanbarne/Companies need to be aware of the diverse needs of all their employees and adapt their Company culture and work environment to ensure the longevity of the employee-employer relationship.KATIE ANDREWShttps://sr2rec.co.uk/katie-a/In an ideal world, a truly diverse and inclusive workplace should be a melting pot of cultures, ethnicity, socio-economic backgrounds, religion, language, gender, orientation, age. Everything that makes humans unique, under one accessible roof. So far in my career, I’ve never really worked anywhere truly like that, but some places have been better than others. There will always be work to do.TIFF DAWSONhttps://sr2rec.co.uk/tiffdawson/If we can get more people working in different industries to visit schools and tell them about what their days look like, school aged humans will be better equipped to decide amongst a wider range of jobs. The problem with STEM jobs is that it’s so hard for children to imagine what their future would be like, as opposed to doctors, teachers and other professions they’ve interacted with first hand.SARAH BEHARRYhttps://sr2rec.co.uk/sarahbeharry/Workplaces should make it clear that all of the ways people can be different are expected and accepted. They can do this by demonstrating quietly, but constantly, that people are accommodated for what they need without it being a big deal. Things like flexible working, and varied social groups can help, but there are lots of things (big and small) that can be doneGILL LOVEhttps://sr2rec.co.uk/gilllove/I don’t think any of this is easy, it is extremely hard for anyone not to have some degree of unconscious bias, but this is where we need to be really honest with ourselves and ensure that we question ourselves when dealing with others.CARLY BRITTONhttps://sr2rec.co.uk/carlybritton1/Look at the pictures and language that you use on your website, jobs ads and social media. Would working for you be attractive to all candidates? If I am applying for a job at your organisation, I want to see diversity represented; different genders, race, sexualities, ages and disabilities. Avoid using masculine-oriented words like Ambitious, Dominant, Ninja and Rock Star.OLLIE SHARPEhttps://sr2rec.co.uk/olliesharpe/We want a diverse team because that breeds good results, it’s about taking the best person for the job, but also realising that the best person isn’t always the one that looks, thinks, or behaves like you. A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 Any subject. Any content. No barriers.
WOMEN ROCK2021-06-22

Any subject. Any content. No barriers.

As an addition to our Women Rock platform, and as a socially responsible business, one of our focuses this year is to break down stigmas and to be more open and honest, so we asked our wonderful team to share stories of times in their lives where they have been ‘Rocked’.Any subject. Any content. No barriers.Every month we will post a story in the hope to reach out to others in similar or challenging situations to let them know that they are not alone, we all have difficulties in our lives and our stories will tell you how we dealt with and overcame them or simply learned to live with them.We all struggle. We all hurt. You are not alone. WHAT’S ROCKED YOU?Having a baby. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional and physical toll it would have on me. I struggled massively in the first year, especially in the first 6 months. I was terrified that I was getting PND and the guilt was unbearable as I had this gorgeous little boy but I felt so unhappy for chunks of time.HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH IT?I was lucky to have a big support network around me. I was very open with my NCT group and kept speaking to people about it. I enjoyed the small wins like getting out for a walk, seeing a friend, eating a meal in peace and that cute smile ?.WHAT DID YOU LEARN?I wasn’t alone and it was better to be open and cry if I needed to cry. I learned that I need a break sometimes, to re-charge however I still struggle to follow that lesson.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHERS IN A SIMILAR SITUATION?Reach out to other parents, it’s not spoken about enough but if you are open then others will be open with the problems that they are experiencing. Ask for help, there is a lot about. It WILL pass, one day you will just realise that you feel happy and content in your crazy new world. A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 “Don’t let anyone make you lose your voice and listen to others…” – An interview with Leesa Kingman
WOMEN ROCK2021-05-18

“Don’t let anyone make you lose your voice and listen to others…” – An interview with Leesa Kingman

A few weeks ago, we came across the brilliant Leesa Kingman, who was talking at a “Girls Into Coding” event.With an already impressive outreach into Diversity in Tech and being someone who has climbed to the top of her career ladder, having held senior positions in the world of Electronics & Software Engineering, there was no one better to have part of our blog.Leesa believes in approaching D&I in the right way, including all and excluding none. Read her insight into the world of Engineering below…SO INTRODUCE US TO YOU…I am an Embedded Team Lead, I work for a company called Arralis in Swindon. I have spent 20 years in industry after studying Computer Systems Engineering at the University Of Sussex. I grew up in a small town of Midsomer Norton near Bath. I never realised I was unusual until I got to university to discover I was 1 of 4 engineers in a cohort of 200! Engineering has been a rewarding and interesting career. No two days are the same and there is always something new learn. I like to spent my time supporting STEM by talking to girls about engineering, supporting activities in school and generally promoting what a great career choice it is.WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO APPROACH PEOPLE ABOUT DIVERSITY TO GET THEM ON BOARD?Open a conversation and engage who you are talking to. Don’t lecture but ask for opinions so you can have a discussion on the topic. Taking your time to understand where someone else is coming from is so important. How can I expect someone to listen to me if I don’t give that person the same courtesy? Do not exclude men from the conversation is so important. There are so many groups that see men as the issue and create a group just for women. You are not going to solve anything by excluding people.HOW HAVE YOU NAVIGATED COVID AND BEING A WORKING MUM?There has been highs and lows! Being able to work from home was a great advantage. Trying to juggle meetings and helping with home schooling was difficult at times but finding times of the day where I could focus on work or focus on home schooling definitely helped. Realising you cannot do everything at once and finding a balance allowed me to do both effectively rather than feeling I was failing at both!TO DATE, WE’VE FOUND THAT YOUR MORE TRADITIONAL ENGINEERING ENVIRONMENTS ARE SLOWER TO EMBRACE D&I THAN YOUR STANDARD TECH. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?I think some of this is down to linking the reason why. If companies understand that D&I has a positive impact on the bottom line rather than it just being a tick box exercise. Diverse teams come up with the best solutions. There are less females in traditional engineering environments so less champions in management positions.EDUCATION HAS A HUGE IMPACT ON HOW DIVERSE SUBJECTS ARE. DO YOU THINK ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS COULD BE DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY TO HAVE A BETTER IMPACT?I don’t think schools understand what engineering is, careers advice is limited to what is understood. Teaching the curriculum with real world applications will not only inspire, but allow children and young people to learn better. If you can relate what is being taught to something in real life, it is remembered and understood so much more easily. My daughter understands what an engineer is and that it isn’t a male profession. We are limiting our future generations by having male/female jobs.ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG ASPIRING ENGINEERS?Believe in yourself, get as much information as you can via people in industry, work experience, internet research, attend course/eventsTOP TIPS FOR STAYING SANE THROUGHOUT LOCKDOWNS?Finding some me time, getting out and exercising.QUOTE OF THE DAY?Don’t let anyone make you lose your voice and listen to others… You have valid thoughts and opinions. It took me a long time to find mine but now I won’t allow anyone to quieten it. Thank you Leesa for sharing your thoughts and story with us… you rock! #womenrockInterview by Charles HoskinsA voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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